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News team repeats as champions of Buffalo's Smartest Company event

For the second straight year, The Buffalo News Editorial team came out on top in the Buffalo's Smartest Company Trivia competition, held Thursday to benefit Cradle Beach.

The sixth annual competition, held in Salvatore's Italian Gardens in Lancaster, was, as usual, a nail-biter, according to Carol Schlau, a News copy editor and captain of The News Editorial team.

"It was really tight, a real horse race," Schlau said.

The competition pitted teams from workplaces across the region.

"We have about 30 teams. The cost [of entering] this year is $500, up from $400 last year, but it's five people to a team this year instead of four," said Timothy Boling, chief executive officer of Cradle Beach.

Placing second was the team from Rich Products, and the third-place finisher was the team representing the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County, the 2010 champs.

The Buffalo News Editorial team is the second back-to-back winner. Connors & Villardo law firm had consecutive wins in 2007 and 2008.

The event was sponsored by the State Employees Federal Credit Union, which had three separate teams in the competition this year. The Buffalo News had two, the reigning champs and another representing The News' Marketing and Advertising Department.

"The proceeds all go to help to pay for kids to come to our summer learning program, which is coming up in a few weeks," Boling said. "We serve about 800 [kids] each summer."

Cradle Beach also offers two other programs: Respite, a weekend program for kids, and Project SOAR, a year-round program that provides tutoring and mentoring for third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students in the Buffalo Public Schools.

The trivia competition is three rounds of 15 multiple-choice questions, which the competing teams answer electronically. Speed counts. The aim is to answer first and answer correctly to rack up points.

The second question in the first round of the competition was a natural for News sports copy editor Budd Bailey.

Which NBA team started out in Buffalo? Was it the Houston Rockets, Utah Jazz, Golden State Warriors, Dallas Mavericks or the Los Angeles Clippers? The correct answer was the Clippers, of course, but Bailey couldn't help knowing more than he needed to to answer the question.

"Two NBA teams actually started in Buffalo," Bailey confided during a break in the competition.

"One is now the Clippers, and one is now the Atlanta Hawks," he said, explaining that in 1946, the Hawks were the Buffalo Bisons.

The first-place finishers won a three-tiered, black-and-silver trophy topped by four figures hoisting a light bulb.

"Probably the most unique thing about the event is the trophy that the [first-place] team wins," Boling said. " They get to take it back to their site, and they leave it there for the year, kind of like the Stanley Cup."